Ellen G. White Writings

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Beginning of the End, Page 48

When Languages Were Changed

This chapter is based on Genesis 9:25-27; 11:1-9.

God had preserved only one family, the household of Noah, to repopulate the deserted earth. To him God declared, “I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). Yet in the three sons of Noah—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—the character of their descendants was foreshadowed.

Noah, speaking by divine inspiration, foretold the history of the three great races that would be fathered by these three men. Tracing the descendants of Ham through the son rather than the father, He declared, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.” The unnatural crime of Ham revealed the corruption of his character. These evil characteristics continued in Canaan and his descendants.

On the other hand, the reverence shown by Shem and Japheth for God’s laws promised a brighter future for their descendants. Concerning these sons it was declared, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant.” The line of Shem was to be that of the chosen people. From him would descend Abraham, and the people of Israel, through whom Christ was to come. And Japheth will “dwell in the tents of Shem.” The descendants of Japheth were especially to share in the blessings of the gospel.

The family line of Canaan descended to the most degrading forms of heathenism. Though the prophetic curse had doomed them to slavery, God bore with their corruption until they passed the limits of divine restraint, then they became slaves to the descendants of Shem and Japheth.

The prophecy of Noah did not determine the character and destiny of his sons. But it showed what would be the result of the path they had chosen and the character they had developed. As a rule, children inherit the dispositions and tendencies of their parents and imitate their example. Thus the corruption and irreverence of Ham were reproduced in his posterity, bringing a curse upon them for many generations.

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